While most movie reviews tend to be published close to the date when a film opens, that timing usually doesn't reflect when the individual film critic has actually seen the film in question. Most major releases are screened for the press under embargo agreements, by which an outlet agrees to withhold publishing a review until a specific date in exchange for the courtesy of an early viewing. And though review embargos often served a practical purpose in evening the playing field between big and small market outlets, they have also been known to be set up so as to prevent news of a bad movie from getting out too far ahead of its release.
With that in mind, Marvel Cinematic Universe fans will be pleased to hear that Marvel plans to drop the social media embargo for Captain America: Civil War tonight (April 8, 2016) at 11pm PST -- a full month before the film is set to debut.
The surprising move, which will allow members of the press who have already seen the film to offer their reactions on social media services like Facebook and Twitter, comes in the wake of Disney's earlier announcement that the film will screen at CinemaCon on April 13 - the same day that a secondary embargo covering full reviews is set to expire. As the screening news meant a finished (or nearly finished) cut of the film had already been completed, industry insiders have speculated that the film's press screenings and junkets would begin much sooner than is typical for films of this size.
While it's not unusual for films to be shown to the press (particularly representatives of major outlets in New York and Los Angeles) as early as possible, weeks-early screening reactions are still typically held in embargo to let the studio assess reactions and plan media strategies accordingly, with embargoes occasionally being eased back if the advance word is positive. For Marvel to order a complete lift for any and all opinions on the film would indicate a tremendous level of confidence in the film -- i.e., early reviews are seen to help drive audiences to theaters.
The manuever also indicates the studio is largely unconcerned with implications from some media analysts that the negative critical reception of Warner Bros.' Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice could have an impact on the release of their own film, given that they are both superhero films with a similar premise of ostensibly friendly good guys being driven into ideological conflict. While the box-office will tell the final tale in that regard, Marvel/Disney do not appear to consider such theories as having much particular weight.
Captain America: Civil War opens in U.S. theaters on May 6, 2016, followed by Doctor Strange – November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man – July 7, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018;Ant-Man and the Wasp– July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel – March 8, 2019; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019; Inhumans– July 12, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on May 1, July 10 and November 6, 2020.
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